NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- It was a sea of red as Santas from across the world descended to Midtown to enjoy the return of SantaCon.
"We came from Scotland, especially for SantaCon. It's been fantastic so far," John Macmillan said.
SantaCon started Saturday morning around 40th and Broadway with a giant dance party.
"We're from South Jersey, we brought all our friends here and we're here to have a good time, and we're here to get drunk," Nick Lyon said.
The annual charitable bar crawl spreads holiday joy with the help of police to make sure things don't get too festive.
"Ooo. We're trying to make friends. Honestly, we're just trying to have a good time, and meet new people. Make it to the end of the day. Not sure what time we're going to be going home," Shauna Claiborne said.
Many people headed to participating bars and clubs, including John Sullivan's at 210 West 35th Street, Pando39 by Sixth Avenue and Stags Head at 252 East 51st Street.
However, this year's event comes as hospital beds are being filled due to respiratory illness.
80% of hospital beds nationwide are full, largely by these patients testing positive for RSV, the flu, or COVID.
New York City's health commissioner issued an advisory urging residents to use masks indoors and in crowded outdoor settings.
Back in Manhattan, revelers say they were prepared to celebrate for a good cause.
"I'm vaccinated, I make sure I'm up to date. So you have to put faith in the medical system," Kathy Banchon said.
Many want to embrace the new normal and make up for missing the previous SantaCons.
"It's been a great time. You get to know so many people. Everyone is so nice. And have a great time overall," Kathy Banchon said.
In the last decade alone, organizers have raised over $900,000 for charitable through SantaCon.
"It's for charity. It's a good event for everyone to come and be merry so to speak," Lyla Edwards said.
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